Already on the way out, it now looks as if the three kisses with which the Dutch ritually greeted each other will not be coming back, even though social distancing is becoming a thing of the past.
Etiquette expert Beatrijs Ritsema already predicted the demise of the three kiss salute last year, saying good riddance to ‘a cumbersome procedure that a lot of people don’t want to go through anymore.’
That people are reluctant to go back to three kisses was confirmed out by a recent NOS straw poll. Most of the people interviewed said they thought shaking hands would come back but not the kisses. ‘What are they for anyway?’ one man said.
Hugs are definitely here to stay, teenagers told NOS while fist bumping will also continue. One youngster also announced that in a circle of uncles and aunties at a birthday party, his greeting would be ‘congratulations everybody!’ but definitely not an endless round of kissing.
The Dutch have the French to thank for the kissing frenzy, which has been known to extend to four kisses in extreme cases, psychology professor Dolph Kohnstamm said.
It apparently started at the beginning of the 20th century when people would give each other three kisses at the opening of country markets. ‘Parisians thought that was a peasant things and looked down their noses at it,’ Kohnstamm said.
But, like a virus, the habit spread and soon Belgium and Brabant fell victim too. It is even proudly known as the ‘Brabant triple smacker’.
How to say no?
Behavioural scientist Nicolet Theunissen told news website Nu.nl that she expects the issue to be a topic of conversation in the weeks to come. There will always be someone in a group who says ‘what do we do?’, she said.
‘So say what you want rather than what you don’t want, which is more positive,’ Theunissen said. ‘Say that you would rather shake hands from now one… it is more positive. You can always extend your hand in front of you so people can’t get closer anyway.’
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